Wednesday, 1 August 2012

How to choose and executive coach

Top 5 tips for choosing an executive coach
By Brid Bourke & Tommy Geary, Vice President, Commercial Sales Operations, EMEA at Hewlett-Packard

1. Rapport: The number one success factor in effective coaching relationships is the rapport between the coach and the client. Choose someone you feel you can open up to. The Coach needs to delve deep and you must pick a person you're comfortable in doing that with. If you don't get beyond the superficial symptoms, you will not get to the root cause and will only scratch the surface of your potential.

Most corporate companies will have a panel of coaches available – we highly recommend that you talk to 3 potential coaches using a set of prepared questions. You’ll have a strong sense of which coach you connect best with, as well as having gathered data on your priority areas for development. Talk to successful leaders who have worked with a coach in your organization to identify your short listed candidates.
References do matter in this area and a good reference from a leader in your company will save you time and energy searching. It also is a ‘positive perception creator’ – the person who gives you the recommendation will feel more committed to your success and a coach who receives a referral from an existing client will give priority attention to you.

2. Match to Coach Strengths - Choose a Coach who has strengths in the areas you want to develop. You may require someone who has a knowledge of corporate life or someone strong in improving certain key competences. They will have dealt with people working on the same things and can suggest proven improvement methods. Everyone is unique but there are common themes that a Coach can pick up on quickly

3. Location. Select location based on ability to meet face to face regularly. Phone and video conference sessions can work but good coaches read so much from body language that it's important the person you choose can meet you in a location suitable to you both. They get the full 360 degree perspective of you that way.

4. Ask questions – good coaches will expect a ‘no obligation no fee’ initial meeting with you to establish if a relationship will work. This is the time to dig into the detail so feel free to ask all those important questions: what % of your time is spent coaching? What companies do you currently coach in? What level do you predominantly coach at? Can you give me 2 references? What are your focus areas – which development areas can you most deliver results in? How much do you charge? What tools are you qualified to use? What frequency and duration do you recommend we work at? How will we measure results? What would you suggest are the confidentiality arrangements? What gets reported to whom? How will you ensure we stay on track? What happens in the event of a cancellation? How will you align my coaching needs with the organizational goals and processes?

5. Feedback and Check ups– it is common practice in executive coaching to engage stakeholders in your development process. Involve your manager and HR business partner with your coach to ensure a contextualized coaching engagement. Agree a mid point and final review meeting with everyone. Engage in a 360 degree feedback process (see a sample 360 report here) Share your developmental goals so that others can provide relevant and timely feedback to you when your coach is not present. With these supports, your accountability to yourself will increase, others perception of you will be positively focused and you are much more likely to achieve your goals

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